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Message Board > Beginner's Forum > how to use rotary cutter? ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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how to use rotary cutter?
not getting it right
tabathavm
tabathavm
Beginner
GA USA
Member since 10/3/13
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Date: 10/3/13 4:25 PM

Sooooo i have purchased a mat and an ofla cutter. I thought it would be a cinch. But i can seem to keep the cutter going in a straight line...even when i use a wide ruler as an edge guide. How many layers should i cut at a time? Ack! Lol just wanna get this right and stop messing up my fabric :(

rivergum
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rivergum
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In reply to tabathavm <<


Date: 10/3/13 4:58 PM

Hmmm... that seems odd. Is your blade screwed in reasonably tight so it doesn't wobble? Too tight of course and it won't turn.

Try to run the blade quite quickly along the cutting line, if you do this too slowly it will be hard to do a straight line. I find a ruler mor difficult, a you don't want to damage the blade. If your blade is already damaged from the ruler, it will cut only intermittently.

Two layers at a time are fine, unless you are cutting faux fur.
-- Edited on 10/3/13 5:00 PM --

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Taking in is happier than letting out.

Sydney, Australia

DonnaH
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DonnaH
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TX
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Date: 10/3/13 5:06 PM

Mine is Fiskars not Olfa, but the same idea.

Things that caused me problems -

Loose/wobbly blade - for some reason, mine will randomly come "unscrewed" just a bit - so now I check it before any cut

Blade not sharp enough, or nick in blade - stupid thing cut, but left a teeny bit still connected. Fix this by replacing the blade.

Edge of cutter (not the blade, the plastic part that holds the blade) caught on side/top of ruler - the blade didn't even touch the fabric, grrrr (LOL)

Trying to go too fast or too slow - a smooth steady cut is best.

CM_Sews
CM_Sews
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CA USA
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Date: 10/3/13 5:59 PM

It's easy to have the cutter sort of wander away from the edge of the ruler. Been there, done that, and I'll probably do it again.

Another thing to check: Do you have 2 blades in your rotary cutter? EASY to do, and the blades are so thin, you can't really tell unless you take the blades out.

Is the blade too TIGHT in the cutter?

Rotary cutting is a skill, and it took me awhile to do it well consistently.

As far as the blade "running away" from the edge of the ruler, it helps to very slightly angle the cutter so that that the cutting edge of the blade is running along the edge of the ruler at the very bottom edge of the ruler, the "corner" that is against the fabric (I hope that makes sense), rather than the side of the blade running along the flat edge of the ruler.

In practice, if you are cutting with your right hand, this means that you VERY SLIGHTLY lean the cutter to the right, and place the cutting edge of the blade on the fabric at the bottom edge of the ruler. Sort of "snug it up" to the ruler. As your are cutting, there is less tendency for the blade to "wander away".

The more layers you are cutting, the more opportunity there is for inaccuracy. I've cut up to 8 layers, but I have fewer problems if I keep the maximum number of layers at 4 or less.

Try Googling for videos about rotary cutting. For myself, it helps me to see someone else in action.

CMC

Red Dragon
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Red Dragon
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Date: 10/3/13 9:47 PM

All good advice. Keep in mind that a smaller rotary cutter is better for curves than the big ones, and you need to push down with some (but not lots) of pressure for it to cut. Also, push forward only, not backwards or back and forth, or you risk cutting yourself. You didn't say what model you got, but have you released the safety guard?

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Tracy, Canberra

Janome 7700QCP, Janome 4618QC, Husky S25 overlock/coverstitch

heathergwo
heathergwo  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/3/13 9:57 PM

Very strange that you're having problems...

I echo what everybody said earlier.

I also had MORE difficulty using a ruler than just going freehand. I was nervous at first, but you'll get the hang of it pretty quick.

I would do only 2 layers thick at a time.

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Brother Innovis 1250D
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TGWGWS
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Date: 10/4/13 2:10 AM

I agree with CM_Sews. I lean my cutter just slightly to the right keeping it snugged up to the edge of the ruler. I cut up to 4 layers of cotton fabric at a time.

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tgwgws

SandiMacD
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SandiMacD  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/4/13 7:36 AM

Well it does just take practice sometimes. I bough my first rotary a few years back for my daughter to use when visiting as I prefer scissors and she is a lefty. Actual she uses either. And she had absolutely no problems so I know it was me learning.
So I can tell you there were a lot if tears and laughter as I veered up over and away.
It has to do with angle, table height and how long a distance as well as how many layers.
I am getting better. Most times I can do up to about 14 inches of 2 layers for a craft. But I would never trust it to cut a pattern like I see so many younger kids do. My long ruler, both wood and plastic, have shaved areas from where I guided the rotary too close and sliced into it.
I tried pillowcases last summer with my grandson and did pretty good the first 18 inches before losing control and veering off away from the ruler. But it was easy enough to reposition and straighten.
So just follow the advice others are offering and practice.

------
sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

Vicsguy
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Vicsguy
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OH USA
Member since 5/17/09
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Date: 10/4/13 8:15 AM

It might help to hold the handle of the rotary cutter closer to the blade if you are struggling with control. One wouldn't write very effectively holding a pencil closer to the eraser than holding it closer to the lead, for example.

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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Date: 10/4/13 8:33 AM

I still prefer scissors unless I am only cutting straight lines, and I find I do better with thicker fabrics.

The fact that quilt shops actually give CLASSES in how to use your rotary cutter should give you some reassurance--this isn't just as simple as it first sounds.I took mine to a sewing class and had them show me how to use it. Turns out I wasn't using NEARLY enough pressure. I also tend to end up with little missed bits I have to snip with scissors.

Another thing that wasn't brought up here--it really helps to have a firm, stable surface UNDER the cutting mat. If you're cutting on the floor, on carpet (um, like I do), it can be a lot harder.

Somehow I ended up with a really nice Kai rotary cutter that's pressure-activated. You don't have to open the guard; just pressing down with the blade makes it, uh, "un-retract." It seems to be easier to use and give better results than the Olfa one I was trying before.

------
~Gem in the prairie

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